Category Archives: String

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Hybrid Stringing…What is it and Does it Matter?

When the discussion is about stiff polyester string, it will always include the word “hybrid”!  Typically this word is used to convince players that by putting a “soft” multi-filament string in the cross position the string bed will be easier on the wrist, elbow, and shoulder.

Intuitively this makes sense, but in reality, the reverse could be true!

I began analyzing hybrid string beds years ago and did many just to test the theory. At the time it did not seem so important because, frankly, the use of polyester based string did not approach the usage of current times.

I have nothing against the polyester string(s)! I do have an issue with bad applications of polyester string(s).

I am bringing this up again because recently an “interviewee” stated that that replacing the polyester cross string with a multi-filament would cure the ills of a very stiff string bed.

The bottom line:

A high elongation string of any material can increase the string bed stiffness of a hybrid string bed!

How can this be?

Stiff (polyester) strings are “stiff” and the tension applied to them during stringing is low. However, high elongation (multi-filament) strings will be influenced more by tension and become “stiffer”.  The cross stings are typically shorter, and there are more of them, so the combined affect is stiffness.

The initial reaction to this conundrum is to automatically reduce tension on the cross string by a certain amount. Again this raises another issue, and that is racquet distortion.

During the installation of the main strings most stringing machines will allow the racquet to become wider, sometimes a lot wider! So, reducing the cross string tension may not return the racquet to the designed shape. What happens then is the racquet will continue to move around trying to find a “safe” place and therefore the string bed stiffness changes.

In summary, the hybrid string bed will not be statistically different than the full string bed of polyester. This is even truer if the initial string tensions of the polyester are very low, such as 35 to 40 pounds.

So if you feel the need to use polyester just go with lower, lower,  tensions.



Is It Worth It?

Racquet Quest sells only a few high performance racquet brands so it is not unusual for us to receive racquets purchased from on-line sources.  These can be dropped shipped to us or brought in by the client.

That’s great.  But here is the problem!

If you have a racquet technician in your neighborhood do not have the racquets strung by the online source!  Take the racquet(s) to someone you trust, and, can be there if there is ever an issue, and this is an issue!  The knot actually came untied!  This is rare but is particularly likely when using a really “cheap” string and not knowing how to tie a proper knot!

Two things are happening here.  The knot on the top is a “tie off” knot.  While the tail may become loose it is not likely the knot will totally untie itself.  The knot on the bottom is a “starting knot” and was subjected to the tension of the first cross string and, as you see, became a “not knot”.

Very Close to a Not Knot!

Very Close to a Not Knot!

"Not A Knot"! Whoops!

“Not A Knot”! Whoops!

This was very likely a “free” or “discounted” stringing so why not take advantage of the offer!

In this case, it is impossible to play with the racquet so what was saved by the cheap stringing?

This happens because the source knows that the racquet will probably not be returned for correcting the error(s) so who cares!

I care and you should care!

That is my “rant” for the day!

What is “Soft”?

What is “soft”?
In 1994 I did a presentation for the USRSA in Atlanta. What was the topic?

“Understanding String”.

It is now 2016 and we are still trying to understand string! Especially “soft” polyester based string.

In 1994 PolyStar was the only polyester based string I was familiar with. Since then there are dozens of offerings from anyone that can afford to purchase from manufacturers and market the string. If you have a desire to do it I applaud you!

In 1989 I started testing string and calculating “power potential”. Why “power potential”? Because “modulus”, “elongation” and “elasticity” didn’t get to the bottom line of string performance quickly enough! The steps to arrive at power potential are many.

For the testing, several calculations take place including “stretching” the string as in a ball impact. The difference between the first calculation and the “stretched” calculation is the power potential!

I have calculated hundreds of power potentials but have not until now quantified “soft”.

I think now is the time!

Dr. Rich Zarda has done a tremendous amount of work on this issue so we can now distill this work into the following explanation.

So, what is a “soft” tennis string?

Strings in a tennis racquet carry the ball impact load in two ways:
1) Via the pre-load string tension placed in the strings caused by a stringing machine (and the racquet frame “holding” those tensions in place) and
2) Via additional tensions that develop in the same string caused by the elongation of the strings as they deflect with ball impact.

Both of these conditions occur simultaneously and contribute to the string bed stiffness (SBS, units of lbs./in). Racquet technicians measure SBS by applying a load to the center of a supported string bed and measuring the resulting deflection. Dividing the load by the deflection provides the SBS (lbs./in). The lower the SBS, the more power you have (power here is the ability of the ball to easily rebound from the string bed), but the less control (presumably); the higher the SBS, the less power you have but the more control you have (presumably).

One more point about SBS: the lower the SBS, the less the load your body will feel for a given swing. But for an SBS too low (less than 50-80 lbs./in), balls will be flying off your racquet going over the fence; and for an SBS too high (greater than 200-240 lbs./in), the racquet will hit like a board with significantly less ball rebound. So the most common SBSs are between 100-200 lbs./in: a balance between control and power.

As already expressed, SBS is a function of the pulled string tension and the string elongation. Here is what is interesting: For large string elongations (for example, greater than 15%) and reasonably pulled string tensions (greater than 30-40 lbs.), SBS only depends on the pulled string tension and it does not depend on string elongation. Additionally, for this condition, SBS, for these high elongation strings, does not change as a ball is hit with more impact.


But for a string bed with low elongation strings (less than 5%) under low pulled tensions (less than 20 lbs., or tensions that have been reduced due to racquet deformation and/or string tension relaxing with time), the SBS additionally depends on the string elongation and will significantly increase, in a nonlinear ever-increasing way, for harder ball impacts.

In order to achieve a repetitive feel for a player when hitting with a racquet, it is best to have a SBS that is independent of an increasing ball impact force. This will lead to a more consistent playability of the racquet, which includes a more repetitive feel. This desired “feel” implies using high elongation strings (greater than 10%). If low elongation strings are used (less than 4%), the SBS will significantly increase as the ball impact force increases, resulting in a racquet feeling “boardy” for higher impact loads. And low elongation strings will cause un-proportionally increasing load into the body.


As you can see by the graph, elongation contributes to SBS in a big way. The red line indicates a stiff string, about 4%, and the blue line indicates a “soft” string, about 15% elongation. You can see the loads increase dramatically as the impact increases. So the harder the hit the higher the loads on the body.

So to the question asked at the start “What is a soft tennis string?” In the context of the SBS discussed above, I would suggest that a soft tennis string is one whose elongation is 10-15%, and a stiff tennis string is 4-6%. And any string under 4% should be categorized as ultra-stiff.

String elongation (soft, stiff, ultra-stiff),  stringing machine strung tension, and string pattern(s) all contribute to SBS and SBS is an important measure of how a racquet plays and should be adjusted for an individual player, stiff and ultra-stiff strings can lead to less-repeatable racquet performance and player injury.

Soft = 10 -15% Elongation             Power Potential Range = 10.0 – 16.0
Stiff = 4 – 6% Elongation               Power Potential Range = 4.0 – 7.0
Ultra Stiff =  Less than 4%            Power Potential Range = .65 – 3.96

Get a HEAD Start on Summer!

Congratulations, Novak, on your French Open win!  Now on to Wimbledon!

Summer is really here, and here is a good way to get off to a good start!

When you purchase a new in-stock HEAD racquet you can choose, while they last, a HEAD Cap or Visor to keep your head cool!

New Head Light Function Caps!

New Head Light Function Caps!


See you soon!


What is a “mis-hit”?

I posted recently the sad results of a mis-hit but I don’t think that term has been properly discussed. So, let’s talk about it now.

In the post I also mentioned the word “shank” and in fact, that may be more descriptive of what happens.

Mis-hits DSC02449or Shanking is the “hard” collision of the ball hitting the string and the racquet frame at nearly the same time. This impact causes huge shear loads, like a scissor, and is accompanied by an “impulse”. That means the load is applied over a very short time period, or, in other words, a sharp blow.

A reasonable question, then, is “why does it usually break around the top of the racquet?” The short answer is that the top of the racquet is moving faster than any other part of the racquet with great leverage , therefore, the load has no place to go except into the string. If, however, the mis-hit occurs around the side of the racquet it can “rotate” in your hand and mitigate the load. That is why we see very few failures around the side of the racquet.

I have found that most mis-hits happen with younger players that are very aggressive naturally and are, at the same time, experimenting with different strokes, serves, grips, and spin. All of these things can cause mis-hits and the string failure associated with them.

In most cases mis-hits can be eliminated, by the player, through concentration on impact location, such as trying to hit the center of the string bed, however, on occasion, seldom I hope, the concentration is not there or the desire to return a shot takes precedent over concentration!

Mis-hit? What mis-hit?

Has this ever happened to you?  The string just breaks!  For no reason, it just breaks!

Well, a closer look will tell a different story.  The failure is referred to as a “mis-hit”, or “shank”, and is caused by hitting the ball at the junction of the string bed and racquet frame.

mishitIf look closely you will see a little yellow ball fuzz on the first broken string.  So, if you are going to try to “sell” your story that it “just broke” be sure to clean off the ball fuzz before taking it back to the racquet technician.  Keep in mind, however, that most racquet technicians have seen this failure before. Don’t try to fool them! 😉

All string materials are subject to this failure but some stand out as potential easy breakers.  Thin gauge natural gut, probably the best racquet string ever, will fail at a load like this.  Thin gauge PEEK string is likely to fail, as is some thin polyester based string.  The point is almost any string will give up when encountered with massive  head speed and a “mis-hit”.

As always be certain the grommets are in good condition especially around this area of the racquet.



Don’t Forget Protection!

Many players simply don’t pay attention to the protection the “Bumper Gaurd” at the top of the racquet provides and, therefore, the racquet and certainly the string can be badly damaged!

Bad Bumper Guard!

Bad Bumper Guard!








When you see a grommet that looks like this it can lead to racquet damage as evidenced by the thin white line.  This indicates the wear of a thin layer of graphite (what your racquet is made of) which, if left unattended, can lead to catastrophic ($$$) failure!

If you look closely you will see scuffing of the string which is now exposed to court scraping.  What can cause court scraping?  The primary cause is picking up the ball(s) using your racquet and your foot!  This activity drags the racquet across the court hundreds of times and before you know it the string and racquet are runied!

I suggest you take a good look at your protection, and, if you are picking the ball up with your racquet, don’t!





Grab a Bag!

The beginning of summer is a great time to buy a new racquet bag!

This annual “emptying” of your old bag may reveal things, or creatures, that have been missing, or living in there, for months!

Grab Bag!

Grab Bag!

Nothing is better than thermal compartments to keep your racquet(s) and string from over-heating!  This is Florida you know!

Djokovic Bag Thermal Lining

Djokovic Bag Thermal Lining

Back Packs are a nice compliment to your “mega” bag so pick up one of those, too!

Bunch of Backpacks

Bunch of Backpacks

Can This be True?

I don’t normally post about string failure in a positive way but today is special!

This is the date the racquet was strung…

Strung Date

Strung Date

Today is 3/24/2016!  The string is broken!  229 days!

Unbelievable Durability!

Unbelievable Durability!

In the interest of full disclosure this player has three (3) racquets and plays about 2-4 days a week (yes, I think he does have a job)!  So, even if you divide this number of days by 3 it is still 76 days.  Pretty good, I would say!

The string is Ashaway Monogut ZX Pro, Black, 17 gauge (1.22mm) strung at 55 pounds (24.95kg)



String News

As you know I do a lot of string evaluations for myself, my customers and some manufacturers. I do this to have a clear understanding of what a string does at various tensions in various racquets ,and, also in a “controlled” environment!

So, if you ask me for a recommendation my answer will based on data, and, of course some anecdotal evidence. I know most manufacturers try very hard to place the string into the correct category but sometime they simply miss!

There is an ongoing conversation(s) regarding the categorization of polyester based strings relative to racquets and player stature.  This may, for example, look like; “If you use Racquet “X” and are under fourteen (14) years old do not use “XYS” string at tensions higher than 40lbs (18.1 Kilo)”.

Linearity Graph

It is well known that it is very “tricky” to use polyester based string for most younger players that are experimenting with stroke production and still do not have the physical strength to really take advantage of what polyester may offer. For the record I do not recommend it.

Durability is always an issue so when I ask for “playing time” it should be in hours, not days or weeks, but hours. It is a big help to know what portion of those hour are training or playing. It is obvious that one (1) hour of training will be more “destructive” than one (1) hour of tournament play.

The more we know about string the better the choices can be.  It is my imperative that the string matches/enhances the application. Tennis Warehouse, the premier online source for tennis stuff, is also very active in the effort to enlighten players in the selection of the string they order. We can do this!

What do you think?

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